Nan Goldin’s Picture, Imperfect

“I didn’t know they were putting out this book,” Nan Goldin told a panel attendee at the New School on Thursday. He’d presented the photographer with a square collection of images, and was the first of many who’d brought books to be signed. “You know these are the reason I haven’t published a book in eight years?” Ms. Goldin asked, tapping the logo on the title page with a Sharpie. “It’s this publisher.”

The adoring student lowered his head: “Sorry.”

“It’s O.K.,” she said. “But try not to buy their books.”

The ever-feisty Ms. Goldin had arrived at the panel on censorship 10 minutes late. During the delay, the projector behind the panelists showed the laptop folder with the images for Ms. Goldin’s presentation, with file names such as “SkinheadsHavingSex_d.tif.” She closed out the panel by dressing down an audience member who’d asked a question, she said, that was designed to show off his smarts. Ms. Goldin also asked the Transom not to name the publisher in question, with whom she’s signed a life-long, exclusive contract that’s apparently prevented her from publishing any new work, “which is the most important thing to me.” They, however, are free to reprint her work as they like. She recently nabbed a copyright lawyer to take her case and hopes she’ll be out of the contract after her next book.

“They want 55,000 British pounds to let me out of my contract,” she said. “But I think they want it over, too.”

Soon Ms. Goldin was presented with an older book from a different publisher. She signed the title page, “Now this is a book I love. Thanks for your support X Nan Goldin.”-Dan Duray

Nan Goldin’s Picture, Imperfect